Friday, January 10, 2020 (9:43 PM EST):
Today, on what would have been Dylan’s first birthday, was the final day of the Groves trial. The jury took less than three hours to reach a verdict; click here to find out the outcome of the trial.
In the meantime, here’s what happened on the final and infinitely most dramatic day of the Dylan Groves murder trial.
Again, all photos in today’s write-up are from my screenshots of the trial live stream on the Law & Crime Trial Network app.
Court resumed at 8:30 AM EST, and immediately, the state rested its case.
The defense’s first witness was Jessica Groves. Buckle your seatbelts, kids. This was intense. Click the following links to watch part 1 and part 2 of Jessica’s testimony. On direct examination, her attorney, Robert Shawn Stratton, coddled her and all but held her hand as he attempted to coax the desired answers out of her, but the prosecution team nearly made a career out of objecting every time he tried. It was fun to watch, you guys. He only asked a few softball questions before it was Julie Cook Hutchinson’s turn to cross-examine the witness.
Instantly, Jessica clammed up, refusing to provide a single straight answer to any of Hutchinson’s questions. While Hutchinson pressed her to tell the jury how she caused the baby’s injuries, Jessica turned on the crocodile tears and wailed, “It was an accident!” Hutchinson was having none of it, however, responding that she didn’t want Jessica’s excuse; she wanted to know how the injuries occurred. Jessica put on the old “poor me” routine, telling Hutchinson first, “I have sat here and admitted…” and then “I have to live with this the rest of my life!” When Hutchinson refused to stop pressing her, Jessica snarled at her, “You have devoured my family!” Shortly after that, as a gorgeously relentless Hutchinson continued riding Jessica’s sorry ass, she snapped, “I’m done talking to you!”
Hutchinson’s response was epic: “You are talking to me; you’re sitting on the witness stand! Tell them how you caused that injury!”
Even though Judge Kuhn instructed Jessica more than once to answer the question, Jessica stubbornly continued to dance around the question until the judge called a recess, which was about thirty minutes in length. When court resumed, Jessica started providing answers, all right; her response to almost every question was “I don’t remember.” Frustrated, Hutchinson gave up, saying she had more questions but didn’t want to bother asking them. Yikes.
Christine Scott, on redirect, merely had Jessica reiterate that Daniel had no involvement other than the concealment of Dylan’s body. She got Jessica to admit they had wrapped Dylan in multiple layers of plastic and duct tape in order to retrieve him at some point in the future. It couldn’t have been clearer that Jessica was covering for Daniel if her forehead was a glass panel.
After that pathetic display, Hutchinson seemed reenergized and gave Jessica another go, using Daniel Jr.’s testimony from yesterday to highlight the obvious inconsistencies in her story.
Jessica stepped down at about 9:30 AM, and at that point, Stratton rested his case.
Next on the stand was Daniel, with Christine Scott on direct. She did an even more blatant job of attempting to lead her witness, with Tieman and Hutchinson providing frequent objections, which Judge Kuhn sustained more often than not. Daniel tried telling the court that the urine Daniel Jr. testified about yesterday was for one of Daniel Sr.’s friends. I couldn’t help laughing aloud at that one. He claimed he couldn’t give his friend his own pee because he smoked “a little marijuana” at a bachelor party one time. You can’t make this shit up, you guys.
Daniel claimed he never saw any of the bruising his son described during yesterday’s testimony. All he ever saw was a tiny bruise on Dylan’s forehead from when the dreamcatcher fell on the baby’s head. (I want to know more about this mythical dreamcatcher, but we never got the full story, just that it had a little Indian or wolf symbol bead type of thing that matched the bruise exactly.)
Oh, and get this. Scott got Daniel to tell the court that he was intimidated by Jessica, and that she talked him into hiding Dylan’s body via intimidation, saying “you had custody; they’re going to blame you.”
Essentially, in my opinion, Daniel’s testimony, which you can watch here, was a whole lot of damage control, tying up loose ends, denying knowledge of anything remotely incriminating, claiming ignorance, and explaining away missing various appointments and dodging authorities. In short, it was a wildly obvious pile of bullshit, at least waist-deep.
Stratton asked a couple questions before Tieman began cross, at which point the seasoned prosecutor soundly dismantled Daniel’s story.
Judge Kuhn began instructing the jury around 1:45 PM, and at just after 3:00 PM, he sent them to the jury room to begin deliberations. They returned with a verdict less than three hours later.
Thursday, January 9, 2020 (9:56 PM EST):
Again, all photos in today’s update are from my screenshots of the trial live stream on the Law & Crime Trial Network app.
The Law & Crime Trial Network also has full videos of each witness’s testimony on their YouTube channel.
This morning’s testimony was extremely difficult to hear, no matter how calm and professional the witnesses were who delivered it.
We started the day off with Steve Gambill, a member of the Otway Fire Department, under direct questioning from Prosecutor Shane Tieman. Gambill seemed nervous from the start of his testimony. He was among the team assembled to retrieve Dylan’s body from the well on Mount Hope Road in Otway close to a bible camp. It rained the entire day, intensifying as time passed. Gambill and his team had a hard time getting back through the field to the area where the well is located; they were unable to get his firetruck all the way back, but their brush truck made it, if just barely.
Gambill described the well as a hole in the ground that was full of water and approximately 30 feet deep. At first, they were able to use a pump to remove about 13 to 15 feet of water from the well hole, but the pump stopped working, so they were forced to come up with another method. They used a heavy fishing hook and some rope to feel around in the well until their hook touched something. Gambill estimated it took approximately 20 minutes of feeling around with the makeshift fishing apparatus before he hooked the object, which he described as very heavy and hard to move. Once they had it to the surface of the well, the square/rectangular object had tilted and would not fit out of the mouth of the well. Gambill re-positioned the object by hand before lifting it out of the hole.
Upon examination out of the water, the firemen and deputies on scene were able to ascertain that the object was in fact two milk crates, open side against open side, lashed together using copper wire, zip ties, and a chain with several padlocks. They could see several rocks inside, as well as a package wrapped in plastic that they assumed was the body they had been sent to retrieve. At first, there was no smell from the object, but after the water had drained, the smell became apparent. Gambill described it as “very strong,” and when Tieman asked him what kind of smell it was, he looked upset when he replied, “Rot. Death.”
Police asked the firefighters present to assist them in transporting the item out of the field with the truck. Gambill described his fellow firefighter, Dan, as trying to help him lift the object, but the smell overwhelmed him, causing him to back away, so Gambill lifted it into the truck himself. He transported Dylan and his makeshift coffin to a meeting point and waited what he guessed was at least an hour for the coroner to arrive.
Next on the stand was volunteer firefighter Dan Shirey. Tieman once again began direct examination. Shirey, too, was part of the team called to recover the baby’s body. He recounted trying to help Gambill lift the milk crate structure into the truck but being forced to back away at the smell of human decomposition.
Upon cross-examination by Daniel Groves’ defense attorney, Christine Scott, Shirey said it would be much easier to access the well area with four-wheelers than with the vehicles they had brought on the day of Dylan’s recovery.
Shirey was excused around 10:00 AM EST, at which point morning recess was called.
Court resumed around 10:20 AM, at which point, Assistant Prosecutor Julie Cook Hutchinson called Dr. Susan Brown to the stand. Dr. Brown is a forensic pathologist with the Montgomery County Medical Examiner’s Office, which is contracted by outside counties to perform autopsies. By chance, she was chosen to perform the autopsy on Dylan Groves. Dr. Brown presented as an extremely intelligent, knowledgeable, and professional witness, and due to her years of experience, the Judge Kuhn allowed her to be considered an expert witness in her field.
Hutchinson’s direct examination was lengthy, informative, and, because of the information provided in a clinical, matter-of-fact, highly professional manner by Dr. Brown, utterly horrific. Fortunately for us, the cameras steered clear of any and all autopsy photos, allowing Dr. Brown’s words to paint the awful pictures in our minds. Some onlookers in the gallery kept their heads down and their eyes averted to avoid seeing even the most benign of the autopsy photos.
Upon being assigned Dylan’s autopsy, Dr. Brown received the entire milk crate “package” to crack open like the world’s grimmest birthday present. Hutchinson walked Dr. Brown through describing each of the first set of autopsy photos one by one.
Dr. Brown described the milk crate coffin, secured by a large, thick chain with three padlocks on it, as well as twelve zip ties and eight metal wires. Inside, Dr. Brown said, she could see approximately 18 large rocks and an anchor-type structure. She explained that she took several photos at each stage of opening the package “to demonstrate the extent to which his body is concealed.”
The second set of photos encompassed the process of unwrapping Dylan’s little body, which was inside the milk crates, wrapped in multiple layers of plastic and duct tape. Around his plastic-shrouded body was the iron anchor-like structure, which first had to be removed.
At the defense table, Jessica Groves silently sobbed through this entire portion of Dr. Brown’s testimony, her shoulders shaking as she covered her face. There was a photo taken after each layer of plastic and duct tape was removed. Not every layer, Dr. Brown explained, was comprised of the same types of plastic or tape. Within the layers was various debris, and, because Dylan was submerged for months, “everything was wet,” Dr. Brown told the jury. After the last layer of plastic was removed, a blanket came into view, inside which was another blanket that wrapped Dylan’s tiny body. The last picture in that set was the first view of Dylan’s body during the autopsy: the back of his head, neck, and upper back. Jessica pointedly would not look at the screen at this point, sobbing even harder than before but still silently. At this point in the autopsy, Dr. Brown said, she removed Dylan’s body from the milk crate structure to examine him.
The third set of photos were of the examination of Dylan’s body. The top of his head, from the eyebrows back, was a darkened color, although his face was “normal color.” He was wearing a sleeper, a onesie, socks, and a disposable diaper, and again, everything was “soaking wet.” At the time of his autopsy, Dylan weighed approximately 4.8 pounds and measured 20.5 inches from crown to heel. The back of Dylan’s head and neck, where his sleeper collar restricted viewing more of his skin, showed the same dark discoloration as the front and top of his head. A photo taken after Dr. Brown undressed the baby revealed a red, bruised area on the right side of his chest and greyish green discoloration on his right abdomen from decomposition. There was a red bruise on his left leg and a laceration on his left arm.
Jessica was still crying at this point; Daniel had covered his face with a tissue, but I didn’t think he was crying. It was hard to tell.
The next set of autopsy photos were from the internal portion of the autopsy. Dr. Brown had opened the baby’s left arm to demonstrate the complete fracture of the humerus. Another photo showed the complete fracture of both the radius and the ulna. An x-ray of the area showed the fractures in black and white. Dr. Brown then described opening Dylan’s left leg to expose the complete fracture of his left shin. She then described preparing to cut his chest and abdomen open and some bruising on the right side of his chest. Another photo showed Dylan’s empty body cavity once his organs were removed, exposing his ribs and spine. On the left side, there were large, nodular calluses on ribs 6 and 7, which Dr. Brown described as evidence of older, healing fractures. In her opinion, these occurred before the left arm fractures. An x-ray of Dylan’s lower body demonstrated these rib fractures.
Dr. Brown described Dylan’s internal organs as decomposed, which was to be expected, and which could cause his body to weigh less than he did while alive.
Next, Dr. Brown was asked about the toxicology process. Because of decomposition, the doctor explained, there was no blood or urine to use for testing, which is why she chose to use a liver sample.
The next set of photos showed the doctor’s examination of Dylan’s head. She had pulled back his scalp, exposing the two inch fracture on the right parietal skull and the one inch fracture on the left. In Dr. Brown’s opinion, the two fractures did not happen during the same incident; there was some tissue formation around the right fracture, which indicated signs of healing and was not present on the left side. Dr. Brown described removing the top of Dylan’s skull, revealing that the baby’s brain had liquefied due to decomposition. She said this liquid would normally be a tan/white color, but in Dylan’s case, it appeared pink, indicating there was blood mixed in. She believed, upon examining all available information, performing his autopsy, and reviewing his toxicology screen results, that his cause of death was homicidal violence of undetermined etiology. All signs point to homicide, but the specific cause could not be determined due to decomposition from months spent concealed in the water.
The final photo was of the crates and everything that had been contained within besides Dylan’s body. Dr. Brown said these items played a part in forming her opinion because “this was a lot of work, a large extent to go to in order to conceal this child’s body so that it would not be found.”
Some of Dylan’s injuries showed calcification and tissue growth, indicating he was alive when those injuries occurred. Others showed no signs of healing, so those injuries had to have taken place after Dylan was already dead or at the time of his death.
The toxicology report indicated methamphetamine and amphetamines were found in his liver, although the source could not be determined. Dr. Brown reviewed Dylan’s medical records, including his birth records and documentation from two of his well baby checks, to eliminate any prescribed medication as the source of the drugs in his liver. His records indicated he was bottle fed, so the substances couldn’t have been introduced through breast milk.
The milk crates themselves were allowed into the courtroom as evidence, concealed within a large, brown paper bag for Dr. Brown to identify, which she did. However, Judge Kuhn explained, any of the other items that had been found inside the crates would not be allowed into evidence due to body matter present on the items and the smell associated with it. Photos of the items would be substituted instead.
Christine Scott cross-examined Dr. Brown. Not much of note was determined during cross, other than a few simple facts:
- Dr. Brown could not determine if more than one person had caused Dylan’s injuries.
- It was not in Dr. Brown’s job description to determine who caused the injuries.
- Dr. Brown’s opinion was that Dylan did not drown.
- Dr. Brown could not date injuries based on the color of a bruise.
- Dr. Brown could not determine the source of the drugs in Dylan’s liver; she could only, she said with the barest hint of a smirk, say for sure that Dylan didn’t ingest the drugs himself.
Hutchinson questioned Dr. Brown on redirect, asking if the substances in Dylan’s liver could have been there since birth, to which Dr. Brown responded with an adamant “No,” explaining the baby would have to have been exposed to the drugs at some other time. When asked if the fractures could have been accidentally, she said it wasn’t likely. She opined, when questioned, that all of Dylan’s fractures occurred over at least three separate incidents, and that she could not exclude drowning as his cause of death, although there was no evidence that allowed her to include it, necessarily, either.
Robert Shawn Stratton questioned Dr. Brown on recross, pressing her to answer whether or not she could use Dylan’s weight or length both before and after death to determine his date of death. She said that she could not. Christine Scott asked one final question: was it Dr. Brown’s opinion that Dylan drowned? The doctor confirmed it was not, and she was excused a little before noon, at which point court recessed for lunch.
Unspecified legal issues, according to Judge Kuhn, caused a delay in court resuming after lunch. He jokingly told the courtroom that if they were going to be mad at anyone about it to be mad at him.
Today’s fourth witness, Detective Jodi Conkel of the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, took the stand when the trial resumed. She has worked for the Sheriff’s Office for 27 years, 18 of which she has been in the position of detective. Detective Conkel was off duty on June 10, 2019, the day the case of the missing Otway baby came to light, but she was called in to interview the parents.
Detective Conkel testified she interviewed Jessica first and described the woman as standoffish, cold, uncooperative, and annoyed. Jessica denied any and all drug use, and she also denied that she was currently living in the home. She refused to tell the detective about Daniel’s whereabouts, and she insisted that Scioto County Children’s Services had taken Dylan and Daniel Jr. She told Detective Conkel that as far as she knew, Dylan was fine. Detective Conkel quickly ascertained that CPS had not, in fact, taken the Groves children.
The same day, Detective Conkel interviewed Daniel, who she said was “dope sick,” lying on the floor and passing gas while she tried to interview him. Daniel at first gave no credible information, but eventually, he told the detective that at the end of March, he had discovered Dylan deceased in his Pack ‘n Play, although he insisted no one had touched or harmed the baby. He told Detective Conkel that all he was guilty of was hiding his infant son’s body.
Detective Conkel spoke with Jessica again, hoping to obtain more information, but Jessica still refused to answer any questions. The detective even attempted to show Jessica photographs of Dylan, hoping that might shake something loose, but Jessica outright refused to look at them.
After the interviews, still on June 10, Detective Conkel, Captain Murphy, Detective Matt Spencer, and some K-9s accompanied Daniel to the location where he claimed he had concealed Dylan’s body. After hours of searching for some type of container, an article of Dylan’s clothing, or any other clue, the team came up with nothing, and Detective Conkel strongly suspected Daniel was full of shit.
Detective Conkel was involved in a search of the Groves home with Daniel present, during which they collected the Pack ‘n Play, some notes, a calendar, and other miscellaneous items. She noted that there were very few baby items in the home to collect.
Daniel’s story continued to change and evolve, Detective Conkel testified, every time she confronted him about one of his lies. He admitted the story about CPS taking the boys was a lie but denied he had lied about the baby’s location.
After a lengthy pause for counsel to approach the bench for a discussion about a video Assistant Prosecutor Hutchinson had queued up on the big screen, a “listening aid” (some kind of read-along sheet) was provided to the jury to assist in understanding the video. On the video, Daniel, wearing prison stripes, sat in an interview room with Detective Conkel, insisting he was telling the truth about the location of Dylan’s body. At one point, he asked to speak with Jessica, which Detective Conkel allowed, leaving the room to let them speak in “private,” although the entire conversation was recorded.d Afterward, Detective Conkel returned to confront Daniel about something she overheard him whisper to Jessica about having lied to the police about the location of the baby’s body.
At last, after a few more wild goose chases, Daniel led the detectives to the location of the well, and Detective Conkel went over the details of the recovery of Dylan’s body that Gambill and Shirey testified about this morning. She told the court that the recovery effort at the well site began at about 3:30 PM on the afternoon of June 12, 2019 and ended around midnight.
Dylan died, according to Daniel, between March 28 and 30, 2019. On the calendar recovered from the home, the date of April 24, 2019 was notated as “worst day ever.” This was the day that Daniel Jr. was removed from the Groves home. Notably, nothing whatsoever was written on the calendar about Dylan’s death. So if Daniel Jr. being removed from the home was worse than the death of their infant son, it seems they didn’t value the little guy much at all, did they?
Author’s note: I absolutely loved Detective Jodi Conkel and the firm, not-quite-defiant way she answered Christine Scott’s questions during cross-examination. She answered directly, but threw in just enough additional information to ensure that her answers to Scott’s deliberately skewed questions couldn’t be misconstrued. Scott really seemed to be pushing the idea that Daniel isn’t such a bad guy. He was cooperative, wasn’t he? (Yes, except for all the lying and misdirection.) He asked to speak to Conkel and not the other way around, right? (Yes, because he wanted a visit with Jessica, which Conkel arranged.) It was beautiful, you guys.
After a recess, the final witness of the day took the stand: Daniel Groves, Jr. Judge Kuhn noted beforehand that Daniel Jr.’s guardian declined to allow him to be photographed. Both Daniel Sr. and Jessica were crying and visibly trembling throughout young Daniel’s testimony.
Direct examination by Hutchinson was gentle and well executed. Hutchinson asked Daniel Jr. if he had ever seen any injuries on his baby brother, to which Daniel Jr. replied that he had seen some swelling about the baby’s head, including black and purple bruising all over the top of his head. When asked if he was given an explanation for these injuries, he said he was. “Who did that? Was that your mom or your dad?” Hutchinson asked.
Daniel Jr.’s response was: “My father.”
(There goes the defense’s assertion that Jessica is fully responsible for Dylan’s injuries!)
Hutchinson asked if his mom was also there, which he confirmed. Shortly after that bombshell, she asked if there was a time when Daniel Jr. was asked to provide urine for either of his parents, to which he responded, “Yes.” He described being asked every couple of months to pee into a cup, mainly for his father, and said he had seen his father pour the urine into a cup with a lid. He explained that every time this was asked of him, it was at the family home, not at any medical facility.
(It was terribly satisfying to see the defense’s claims of Daniel’s ongoing sobriety completely blow up in their faces, TBH.)
At 6:52 in this video, Daniel Sr. mouths I love you at his son from the defense table, and if you listen carefully, you can hear Daniel Jr. whisper back, “I love you, too.” God, I feel for this kid. I have a 15-year-old, and having to hear a boy the same age testify at his parents’ trial for the murder of his baby brother was unutterably upsetting. No child should have to go through what Daniel Jr. experienced today, not to mention what he’s endured in the past year.
Daniel Jr. testified about realizing his mother was pregnant around November of 2019 and confronting her with the evidence that she was swelling, at which time she admitted she was.
When asked if he had ever hurt the baby, Daniel Jr. immediately and firmly responded that he had never done a thing to harm Dylan.
On cross, Christine Scott apologized to Daniel Jr., saying she couldn’t hear him from where she had been sitting and had to go through some of the questions with him again. She asked him to describe again the bruise and swelling he had seen on Dylan’s head and asked when this was. After some back and forth and Daniel Jr. asserting that he didn’t know exactly when he had seen his brother’s head injury, Scott finally stopped badgering the boy after he said the bruise had been there more than two to three weeks before he was removed from the home on April 24.
Side note: multiple times during Daniel Jr.’s testimony, his parents looked hella worried. Their facial expressions practically shrieked “We’re screwed!”
When Daniel Jr. was excused a litlte before 5:00 PM, Jessica was shaking with violent sobs, her hands covering her face.
At that point, Judge Kuhn recessed the court for the evening and asked the jurors to arrive by 8:30 Friday morning, as he wants to get started early.
That was a harrowing day of testimony, guys. I can’t imagine what tomorrow will bring.
Finally, it’s very much worth mentioning that tomorrow (Friday, January 10) would have been Dylan’s first birthday. Below is a post from the Justice for Dylan Facebook page asking us to honor him. I think it’s the least we could do.
Wednesday, January 8, 2020 (10:30 PM EST):
All of today’s photos are my screenshots from the live stream of the trial on the Law & Crime Trial Network app.
Day three of the Dylan Groves murder trial began, as expected, with the medical professional referenced at the end of yesterday’s testimony. Dr. Darren Adams, an OB/GYN who was called in to assist Jessica with the final stages of Dylan’s birth and later cleaned out her uterus after she experienced heavy bleeding due to blood clots left behind. Dr. Adams testified for less than a half hour.
Next on the stand, a little before 9:30 AM EST, was Scioto County Children’s Services caseworker Patricia Craft, whose testimony was interrupted yesterday afternoon by the paperwork confusion that caused the judge to recess early for the evening. Patricia declined, as she did yesterday, to be filmed by the media present in the courtroom. Her testimony included reading aloud many of her agency’s reports from Dylan’s case.
At one point, as she described seeing Dylan during a home visit, Jessica’s defense attorney Robert Shawn Stratton became surprisingly aggressive with his questioning, snapping at her as he accused her of lying, but she maintained the same calm tone of voice throughout her testimony. She did choke up a couple of times, however, when talking about Dylan. Notably, Patricia testified about trying to obtain an Amber alert once Dylan had gone missing, but her request was denied because, as she was told by a supervisor, it would “look bad” that the agency “lost a baby.” After Patricia’s testimony, the court recessed for lunch.
After lunch, Dr. Mohammad Ali testified; he was the pediatrician Dylan first saw in the hospital after he was born, and Dylan’s foster mother also took Dylan to see him at his practice a couple of times after Dylan was released from the hospital. He spoke about Dylan’s condition during their two visits.
The next witness was another pediatrician,
Dr. McDreamy Dr. Gregory Hudson, who saw Dylan a few times in his office after Dylan was returned to Daniel’s custody. Dr. Hudson, a pediatrician for 30 years, talked about the appointments Dylan had at his practice, Christ Care Pediatrics, and mentioned that he had seen Daniel Jr. in the past, as well.
Next to testify was Andrea Bowling, who was Dylan’s foster mother for twelve days after he was released from the hospital. Andrea’s testimony had me in tears more than once; her love for that little boy shone through in every word she spoke about him. She broke down early in her testimony, and Judge Kuhn called a brief recess to allow her to compose herself. Andrea cried throughout her testimony, but she handled herself with dignity, guided by her love and dedication to Dylan, who obviously left a lifelong impression on her. One of the hardest parts to hear was her description of Dylan’s withdrawal symptoms: tremors, shaking legs, jerking arms, sweats, and wanting to be held all the time. Andrea described holding Dylan every minute he wasn’t sleeping or in his mamaRoo (an enhanced type of infant swing). Her testimony even left the defendants in tears at times, as did the sight of photos of Dylan projected on the screen.
The next witness was Scioto County Sheriff’s Detective Adam Giles, who prepares the arrest warrant for Daniel and Jessica. He described Jessica as agitated when the police showed up and surrounded their trailer home at 2241 Mount Hope Road in Otway, screaming at them to the tune of “what the fuck are you doing here?” Detective Giles told the jury that when the police told Jessica they had come to see the baby, she replied “We don’t have a baby.” She soon changed her story to claim CPS had already taken Dylan.
Detective Giles was followed on the stand by Scioto County Sheriff’s Captain John Murphy, who was also involved in the Groves’ arrest, followed by Jessica Byrd, Jessica Groves’s therapist and drug counselor at Mahajan Therapeutics, which specializes in drug and alcohol counseling.
The final witness of the day was Greg Dunham, an intake officer and investigator with Scioto County Juvenile Court, who holds this position after retiring as Captain at the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office. Officer Dunham testified about attempting to find the Groves, and therefore Dylan, by speaking with members of their families, neighbors, and anyone else who might know their location.
Court recessed for the evening around 4:30 PM EST and will resume tomorrow at 9:00 AM In the meantime, below is a slideshow of some of the players in the trial.
Tuesday, January 7, 2020 (10:18 PM EST):
Despite both Jessica and Daniel Groves pleading not guilty to the myriad charges they face, defense attorney Robert Shawn Stratton told the court in his opening statement this morning that Jessica, and only, is responsible for Dylan’s murder, although Daniel helped her hide the baby’s body.
“My client, Jessica Groves, was and still is a drug addict. There is no doubt about that fact. She and she alone caused the injuries to Dylan Groves which led to his death. She murdered Dylan Groves,” Stratton said.
He told the courtroom about Dylan’s various injuries, which included multiple skull fractures, bone fractures, broken ribs, and a laceration on his arm.
Stratton said to the jury, “You might ask why put everybody through this ideal? Why put everyone through this trauma? The answer is because she is going to do the right thing, right now. And that right thing is to take personal responsibility for her crimes and sins and that right thing also is to protect and defend an innocent man. Daniel Groves had nothing to do with the death of Dylan Groves and did not cause these injuries.”
Stratton claimed Daniel was “foolishly unaware” of the injuries Jessica had inflicted upon Dylan and that he was shocked when he found Dylan dead on March 28. “Once he found him, panic and confusion set in and with that panic and confusion came poor decisions,” Stratton said. “Did he help hide the body? Yes. Did he suggest the well? Yes, he knew where this well was. Did he help craft the coffin and preserve Dylan? Yes, he did but that’s all he did.”
(Ahem. That’s all he did? The disrespect shown to that precious little boy’s body was utterly reprehensible. Even IF Daniel had nothing to do with his son’s death, and that’s a big IF, constructing that so-called “coffin” and flinging it 30 feet down a well seems to me like it deserves a hell of a lot stronger wording than “poor decisions” and “that’s all he did.”)
Due to a mix-up with some of the paperwork in evidence, the judge declared the evening recess early, around 4:00 PM, so the various copies of the files could be sorted out before tomorrow.
It is likely, due to scheduling, that the first witness tomorrow morning will be an unnamed person in the medical field, bisecting the testimony of Patricia Craft, the Groves family’s caseworker from Scioto County Children’s Services, who was interrupted this afternoon due to the paperwork snafu.
Testimony will resume tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM.
Tuesday, January 7, 2020 (11:30 AM EST):
The trial is being live streamed on the Law & Crime Trial Network app and website.
Click here to watch the defense’s opening statement.
Click here to watch the prosecution’s opening statement.
The witnesses this morning have been staff present at the maternity ward when Dylan was born and in the days thereafter. So far, they have described Dylan’s symptoms of opiate withdrawal, Jessica’s reluctance to answer questions, her failure to tell the staff she was on drugs at the time, and the failure of both Jessica and Daniel to show any interest in seeing, holding, or spending time with their newborn baby.
Dylan was treated for NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome) and therefore kept in the hospital a few days longer than normal.
Monday, January 6, 2020 (10:00 PM EST):
The twelve jury members, seven women and five men, have been selected, as well as four alternates (three women and one man).
Sixty-three potential jurors were interviewed.
Opening arguments begin tomorrow (Tuesday, January 2) at 9:00 am.
At some point in the trial, the Groves’ teenaged son, Daniel Jr., is expected to testify. Also on the witness list is Dr. Lorra Fuller, Executive Director of Scioto County Children’s services, who has been placed on leave since Dylan’s death was uncovered last June in the midst of accusations that the agency mishandled Dylan’s case.
Monday, January 6, 2020 (2:39 PM EST):
Jury selection has been underway for over four hours in the murder trial of Daniel and Jessica Groves in the death of their infant son, Dylan, in June 2019.
The couple faces charges of aggravated murder, murder, kidnapping, endangering children, tampering with evidence, interference with custody, gross abuse of a corpse, and four counts of felonious assault.
Dylan’s body was found at the bottom of a well in his home state of Ohio. For more details, click here to read my previous coverage of Dylan’s tragic story.
The trial, which is taking place in Scioto County Court, is being live streamed by Law & Crime Network.
As I obtain updates on the trial, I will add them to the top of this post, which will remain at the top of the blog’s homepage for the duration of the trial.